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Jonathan K. Mcquaid v. Michael J. Astrue

November 9, 2012

JONATHAN K. MCQUAID, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe Chief Judge

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Jonathan K. McQuaid challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of disability insurance benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering McQuaid's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On July 29, 2009, McQuaid filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since March 1, 2009. (See Tr.*fn1 at 134-35.) After his application was denied, (see id. at 59-70), McQuaid requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on July 14, 2010. (See id. at 28-55, 71-73.) On August 20, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits, which became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Social Security Administration Appeals Council's denial of review. (See id. at 1-6, 10-27.)

McQuaid commenced the present action by filing a Complaint on July 13, 2011 wherein he sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (See generally Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (See Dkt. Nos. 7, 8.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 13, 14.)

III. Contentions

McQuaid contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by the application of improper legal standards and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No.13 at 8-24.) Specifically, McQuaid claims that the ALJ: (1) erred in determining his Residual Functional Capacity (RFC); (2) did not apply the appropriate legal standards in evaluating his credibility; and (3) improperly relied upon the testimony of a vocational expert. (See id.) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used and substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision.(See Dkt. No. 14 at 3-12.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 13 at 2-7; Dkt. No. 14 at 1.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is well established and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard and the five-step process used by the Commissioner in evaluating whether a claimant is disabled under the Act, the court refers the parties to its previous opinion in Christiana v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 1:05-CV-932, 2008 WL 759076, at *1-2 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2008).

VI. Discussion

A. RFC Determination

Initially, McQuaid contends that the ALJ's RFC determination "is unsupported by substantial evidence and is the product of legal error." (Dkt. No. 13 at 9). In support of this contention McQuaid raises five arguments: first, the ALJ improperly weighed the opinion evidence of treating nurse practitioner Andrew Catalone; second, the ALJ was required to order an internal medicine examination of McQuaid; third, the ALJ committed error by failing to specifically designate the weight given to the opinion of state agency review psychologist L. Blackwell; fourth, the ALJ improperly applied the psychiatric review technique (PRT); and, finally, the ALJ erred by failing to provide a function by function analysis. (See id. ...


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